From the time a new baby enters a woman’s world, she is advised to take care of herself: nap when the baby naps; eat well and stay hydrated, especially when nursing; let your friends baby you the first week of so of your child’s life; do not be afraid to ask for help.
For most women, though, the reality is that parenting doesn’t leave a lot of time or money for pampering. Or does it?
We find that many moms maintain a strong fashion sensibility, and do not want to have a ‘sweater vest’ mentality as we describe in Tuning into Mom. There is the opportunity for a brand to recognize this need, and catch moms at the younger stage when they move from pregnancy clothing and are forming a ‘fashionable mom’ identity. Melissa, a forty-year-old insurance company executive and divorced mother of girls eight and twelve explains:
“It’s important [the kids] know I also have a life, and in some way they have to fit into my life as much as I’ve needed to fit into theirs. … No more sweater vests!”
Although there are 51 million moms of children ages 0-17 and 77 moms of children ages 0-29, most fashion brands ignore how being a mom affects women’s fashion choices, budget and shopping time.
One brand, Hot Mama, and its website affiliate Shopmama.com, is a growing fashion retailer started in Minnesota in 2004, specifically targeting the mom market. Founder Megan Tamte realized shortly after having her first child that the fashion world can be unfriendly towards moms—and she saw a market opportunity (For her personal take, read “The Hot Mama Story”).
Hot Mama describes itself as, “A lifestyle brand that empowers moms to look and feel beautiful through curated, trend-driven apparel and accessories.” The brand’s marketing strategy is to provide busy moms with on-trend style choices that are both comfortable and attractive—while helping Mom avoid dressing like her pre-teen daughter. Hot Mama’s in-store experience is designed to be fun for moms, “Like shopping with friends who never get bored,” as one Facebook fan phrases it.
Hot Mama’s marketing strategies are making an impression on moms, as Jennifer Hartley, Director of Marketing for Hot Mama shares:
“The core demographic is moms between the ages of 25-55 who have a pulse on fashion. Our customers range from trendy fashion-forward moms to those who haven’t yet splurged on a pair of premium denim. In our stores, our stylists relate to moms, since many are moms themselves.
“Our social strategy is to be as authentic and transparent as possible. We aim to respond within 48 hours of a post, which is very important to make them feel valued-- as a mom, a customer and as a friend. Facebook is the #1 social channel with our moms. We are also active on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, however our moms live on Facebook. Moms love to share what they love, and which jeans they love and which sweater makes them feel ‘hot.’
Moms love to share things that make them feel beautiful and good. That’s how we’ve grown as quickly as we have socially. Some of our most successful and viral posts are about loving or disliking a product.”
Hot Mama’s marketing strategies certainly seem to appeal to moms. Gillian, mom of elementary schoolchildren and a middle schoolchild talks about her fashion evolution in Tuning Into Mom:
“Since I’ve become a mother, I don’t have much time to think about fashion or shop. I used to love to shop around. Now, I’ve narrowed my clothes shopping down to a few stores like J. Jill, Ann Taylor Loft, Sundance and Hot Mama. My wardrobe has taken a turn away from high fashion and toward comfortable clothes that are easy to care for.”
Other mothers agree, as illustrated with these comments from Hot Mama’s Facebook page:
In eight years, Hot Mama has grown to 30 stores in 11 states. In 2010, revenue reached $15.1 million, a 62% increase over 2009-- all through the buying power of the mom market. Jennifer says Hot Mama has new stores slated for 2013, commenting, “We have made wise decisions for profitable growth at a steady yet conservative pace. We look forward to opening more stores in new and current markets in 2013.”
With millions of moms in America who are as concerned with fashion and beauty as any other woman—this market is certainly not saturated with compelling fashion options. It will be interesting to watch which brands decide to compete for the available dollars in the mom market.
To gain further insight into Hot Mama’s strategy, readers may also take interest in the Hot Mama Manifesto: